California started the process last month by introducing legislation to regulate and legalize marijuana to reap huge tax benefits. The state is in such a dire state that this bill should go through without muss fuss at all. The tax benefits are estimated to be almost $1.5 billion per year. California now has one of the highest unemployment rates it has had in a long time. Layoffs, school closings from budget issues, foreclosures, and businesses shutting down are all taking a huge toll on the economy. According to this Time article by Alison Stateman, the state will be able to impose a $50 tax on every ounce of marijuana regulated and sold. Pot is the state leading cash crop, coming in at over $14 billion in sales per year. So it stands to reason that a huge chunk of cash can be siphoned right off the top, easing a lot of financial stress along the way.
The United States Government will probably watch how all this plays out with California before pursuing the same avenues. With the fed in such bad shape now, it seems very unlikely that they will pass up this opportunity for easy big bucks. Other states will be soon be showing interest as well to fuel the speculation of the benefits. With a Federal and state tax imposed, the average price of an ounce should be somewhat more expensive than it is now. The minimum age will be 21 years of age to purchase, the same as alcohol. This will not stop the underage from partaking any more than it does with alcohol, so there will still be plenty of fines and tickets issued which will also benefit the judicial systems.
There are plenty of pros and cons to this debatable issue, but I will save those arguments for others. Whether or not the whole issue has more drawbacks than benefits does not change the fact that both state and Federal budgets will reap a huge windfall from a tax like this. The actual possession laws will all have to be adjusted to accommodate the legality issues. This raises a lot of questions about several issues that will have to be ironed out.
Will underage folks will be treated the same as they are when found with alcohol in their possession?
What about driving while impaired?
The amount you will legally be allowed to have at one time?
Can it be open in your vehicle?
Can it be open in your vehicle with kids present?
Legal blood limit?
It looks like this issue will require a complete set of rules all by itself. Needless to say, there will be a lot of violations and fines, the same as alcohol. We can also expect a lot of bootlegging. This will all be very interesting to watch how it plays out. California says it will take about a year to resolve all the issues, so we will have plenty of time to get accustomed to the idea.
Also see- “New Federal alcohol tax on the way”
New Federal tobacco tax means Michigan smokers getting double taxed